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Suspension for 'anti-gay' opinion upheld
Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 02/05/2004 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
A teacher suspended because he wrote published letters critical of homosexual behavior was properly punished with a one-month suspension, the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Chris Kempling of Quesnel, British Columbia, was found guilty of unbecoming conduct by the B.C. College of Teachers. The panel asserted his letters to the editor, a research paper and other correspondence contained “discriminatory and derogatory statements against homosexuals.”
Teacher Chris Kempling (Vancouver Sun)
Though none of the statements in question were made in class, the panel said the writings indicated the veteran teacher’s attitude could poison the class environment.
One Kempling letter cited by the panel said: “Gay people are seriously at risk, not because of heterosexual attitudes but because of their sexual behaviour, and I challenge the gay community to show some real evidence that they are trying to protect their own community members by making attempts to promote monogamous, long-lasting relationships to combat sexual addictions.”
Justice Ronald Holmes of the B.C. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday Kempling’s comments were discriminatory and could reasonably cause disruption to the school system.
In a letter to supporters yesterday, Kempling said, “It is a black day for religious freedom in Canada.”
According to Kempling, Holmes implied homosexual students would be unwilling to speak to him in his role as a school counselor, asserting the published comments reduced his credibility as a teacher in the eyes of students and the public.
“There was no evidence presented that this was true,” Kempling said. “No evidence of a disrupted school environment was found. There were no complaints from students, parents or my supervisors.”
He noted all of his former administrators wrote letters stating his public comments had no discernible impact on the operation of the school.
According to its rules, the teacher’s panel does not need to find direct evidence of a poisoned school environment to determine that a member is guilty of conduct unbecoming. The panel said, “It is sufficient that an inference can be drawn as to the reasonable and probable consequences of the discriminatory comments of a teacher.”
The teachers said they were disturbed by Kempling’s statements that homosexual relationships are unstable, ‘gay’ sex poses health risks and many religions consider homosexuality immoral.
In his letter yesterday, Kempling pointed out three former students interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation at the University of British Columbia said they were not even aware that there was a controversy at that time.
He insists Justice Holmes ignored evidence that homosexual students received impartial service from him.
“In fact, a prominent homosexual interviewed by college investigators offered no opinion that what I had written publicly was upsetting to homosexual people,” Kempling said.
He argued that the fact he was appointed to be chair of the Community Health Council by the Minister of Health during this period showed his credibility as a teacher and community leader were not impaired.
The post is the highest non-elected appointment in his city, with responsibility for over 500 employees and a $22 million budget.
Kempling said the ruling “means that teachers who happen to be Christians or who belong to other religions proscribing homosexuality may not comment publicly on this issue.”
“It means that disciplinary bodies do not need to provide any evidence of impairment or harm at a professional’s workplace if they exercise their right to free speech in their off-the-job capacity,” he said. “Inference of harm is sufficient to remove a teacher from his job. It is a serious blow to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.”
Kempling said he will appeal the decision to the B.C. Court of Appeal, although the four-year battle has been tough on him and his family.
“But I am determined to see this through,” he said. “I am a Christian first and a teacher second, and I will not compromise my faith or keep silent about what I believe.”
Kempling appealed to the B.C. Supreme Court on the grounds that the decision violates Canadian Charter of Rights protections of freedom of expression and religion.
He argued no professional regulatory body had ever punished members for off-site conduct that had no demonstrable impact on their work.
Kempling insists a one-month suspension was particularly harsh since teachers convicted of threats, assault, theft and flashing have received only letters of reprimand.
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